Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a couple of days. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything on that side was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to pick up the slack. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So, how long will your blocked ear last?

It most likely won’t be a great surprise to learn that the number one factor in predicting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the obstruction. You may need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the kind that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger for longer than a week, as a general rule, without having it examined.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. You’ll most likely begin to think about what you’ve been doing for the past couple of days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting stuck in your ear, for example?

You might also examine your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to schedule an appointment if that’s the situation.

This line of questioning is merely a starting point. A blocked ear could have numerous possible causes:

  • Irreversible loss of hearing: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. You should make an appointment if your “blocked ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: Water and sweat can become stuck in the tiny places inside your ear with surprising ease. (Temporary blockage can certainly develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Build-up of earwax: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Air pressure changes: Once in a while, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, causing the feeling of a short-term blockage in one or both ears.
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which will then generate swelling and fluid.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately obstructs your ears.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Bringing your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will often involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it might be), and you need to be able to adjust your expectations according to your exact circumstances.

Your first and most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears begin feeling blocked, you may be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and attempt to physically clean your ears out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all sorts of problems and difficulties, from infection to hearing loss). If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make the situation worse.

It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss

So you could be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what could be causing your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But it might be, as a basic rule of thumb, a good idea to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can result in a whole range of other health issues.

Doing no further damage first will give your body a chance to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention might be required. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could take a varying amount of time.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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